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National Vaccine Production Effort Poised to Land in Seattle Suburb

Summary

Councilmember Reagan Dunn added his support to a push by the City of Renton to promote the city as an ideal location for a COVID-19 vaccine production facility.

Story

Renton, Washington, a major U.S. manufacturing hub and Seattle suburb, is throwing its official support behind repurposing industry assets to serve as the epicenter of American COVID-19 vaccine production. A vote by the city’s elected officials is expected to be formally adopted later today.

The city is located in King County, home to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has offered up to $250 million for national vaccine research. The foundation has repeatedly stated global authorities and businesses need to start now on plans to manufacture a vaccine and prepare for global distribution.

“When you are dealing with a novel pathogen like COVID-19, as and when we get to identifying a successful vaccine, we are going to need billions of doses,” said Gates Foundation Chief Executive Mark Suzman in prior statements. “There are 7 billion people on the planet. We are going to need to vaccinate nearly everyone. There is no manufacturing capacity to do that.”

Renton has a robust and well-trained workforce of 54,000 and is home to Boeing’s 737 plant, the most efficient manufacturing operation in the world, and PACCAR, a Fortune 500 truck manufacturer. It is also just five miles from the nation’s 8th largest airport and close to two of the nation’s largest ports.

“Now is the time to put our focus on the future,” said King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn, who has been a driving force behind the effort. “At a time when we are seeing record unemployment, the establishment of this industry in Renton and King County could counter the trend and provide much needed new jobs.”

“Renton is already known as one of the nation’s manufacturing hubs and is the Northwest’s leader in healthcare,” said Renton Mayor Armondo Pavone. “The ideal location will need a combination of manufacturing capacity, experience in healthcare, a well-trained workforce, and proximity to multiple modes of transportation. Renton has all that as well as a pro-business attitude.”

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